Extraordinary film footage has emerged of Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison directly threatening asylum seekers detained in Australia’s offshore detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru to return to the countries they have fled from or spend a “very, very long time” in detention.
The footage, obtained by Guardian Australia, shows the immigration minister staring down the lens of a camera and telling asylum seekers in a pre-recorded message: “There are new rules in place under this government so I urge you to think carefully about your next decision and to make a decision to get on with the rest of your life and to not remain here and take the option to go back to the country from which you’ve originally come.”
It is further evidence of the concerted attempts by Australia’s right-wing Coalition government to coerce asylum seekers to return and follows news published by Fairfax newspapers that some are being offered an increased repatriation incentive of $10,000.
Australia is a signatory to the Refugee Convention, of which non-refoulement – the rule of not returning asylum seekers to persecution – is a core principle.
Before urging asylum seekers to return, Morrison warns: “If you choose not to go home then you will spend a very, very long time here and so I urge you to think carefully about that decision and make a decision to get on with the rest of your life.”
Guardian Australia understands the video message was recorded in early September, soon after the Coalition government gained power, but was never shown to asylum seekers